- The Nasdaq posted its fifth straight weekly gain, outperforming other U.S. indexes on the year.
- Nivea led this week’s rally, rising 25% on better-than-expected earnings.
- “The focus in these mega-cap tech stocks is where it needs to be in this market,” said Victoria Green, chief investment officer of G-Squad Private Wealth.
Nvidia Corp. President and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang speaks at the company’s event at Mobile World Congress Americas on Monday, October 21, 2019, in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Forget about the debt ceiling. Tech investors are in buying mode.
The Nasdaq Composite posted its fifth-straight weekly gain on Friday, jumping 2.5% over the past five days and now up 24% this year, outpacing other major U.S. indexes. The S&P 500 is up 9.5% for the year and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down slightly.
This week’s rally was fueled by chipmaker Nvidia’s earnings report and its leadership position in artificial intelligence technology, but investors also picked up shares of Microsoft, Meta and Alphabet, each with its own AI story.
And with lawmakers agreeing to raise the debt ceiling and optimism building that the Federal Reserve may be cutting interest rates, this year’s stock market is starting to look like 2022, and it looks tech-happy. The decade before it.
“The focus in these mega-cap tech stocks should be where in this market,” said Victoria Green, chief investment officer at G Squared Private Equity, in an interview on CNBC’s “Global Exchange” Friday morning. “You can’t deny the potential in AI, you can’t deny the revenue potential these companies have.”
The dominant theme in tech to start the year was layoffs and cost cutting. Many of the industry’s biggest companies, including Meta, Alphabet, Amazon and Microsoft, are cutting thousands of jobs by 2022 as revenue growth and stock prices plummet. In earnings reports, they emphasized efficiency and their ability to “do more with less,” a theme that resonated with the Wall Street crowd.
But investors have shifted their focus to AI now, as companies demonstrate the long-term technology with real-world applications. OpenAI has exploded since the release of chatbot ChatGpit, and its biggest investor, Microsoft, is embedding the technology in as many products as it can.
Google, meanwhile, is showing off its rival AI model every chance it gets, and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg would rather tell shareholders about his company’s AI development than the company’s cash-bleeding Metaverse efforts.
The chipmaker, best known for its graphics processing units (GPUs) that power sophisticated video games, is riding the AI wave. The stock soared to a record 25 percent this week and boosted the company’s market value to $1 trillion after missing first-quarter earnings estimates.
Shares of Nvidia are up 167% this year, leading all companies in the S&P 500. The next three top earners in the index are also technology companies: Meta, Advanced Micro Devices and Salesforce.
Nvidia’s story depends on what’s to come, as revenue in the latest quarter fell 13% from a year earlier as the gaming segment fell 38%. But the company’s sales forecast for the current quarter was 50% higher than Wall Street’s estimate, and CEO Jensen Huang said NVIDIA is seeing “increasing demand” for its data center products.
Nvidia says cloud providers and Internet companies are buying GPU chips and using processors to train and deploy generative AI applications like ChatGPT.
“I think it’s very important not to fight for consensus at this point in the cycle,” Piper Sandler analyst Brent Brasilin, who covers cloud and software companies, said in an interview on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” Friday.
“The consensus is on AI, the bigger it is, the bigger it will be,” Brasselin said. “And I think it will continue to be the best way to play AI trends.”
Microsoft, which recommends buying Brazilline, rose 4.6 percent this week and is now up 39 percent for the year. Meta rose 6.7% for the week and It will more than double by 2023. Alphabet rose 1.5 percent this week, bringing its year-to-date gain to 41 percent.
One of the biggest drags on tech stocks in the past year has been a series of interest rate hikes by the central bank. The increases continue through 2023, with the federal funds target range raised to 5%-5.25% in early May. But at the last meeting of the federation, some members indicated that they expect a slowdown in economic growth to avoid further tightening, according to the minutes released on Wednesday.
A less aggressive monetary policy is seen as a big signal for technology and other riskier assets, which typically fare better in a stable rate environment.
Still, some investors worry that the tech rally has gone too far, given the risks that remain in the economy and government. A divided Congress will make a debt ceiling deal more difficult as the Treasury Department approaches a June 1 deadline. “We continue to have major issues where we have not resolved our differences,” Republican negotiator Rep. Garrett Graves of Louisiana told reporters at the Capitol on Friday afternoon.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said later on Friday that the U.S. may have enough reserves to cover a potential debt deficit until June 5.
“It’s time to take some of that off the table,” Ali McCartney, managing director at UBS Private Wealth Management, told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Friday following a recent rebound in tech stocks. She said her team has spent a lot of time looking at the venture market and where deals are happening, and they’ve noticed some clear bubbles.
“You’re either an AI or you’re not,” McCartney said. “We have to be prepared to see if we don’t get a perfect debt ceiling, if we don’t get a perfect accommodation, what does that mean, because at these levels we’re definitely undervaluing in the U.S. Put a lot of pressure on everything and it seems like a very dangerous place to be given the risks that are there.”
See: CNBC’s full interview with UBS’s Ali McCartney